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NEWS: APEC commits to a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific by 2020

The Globe and Mail reports that, “The 21 leaders of APEC signed off on a plan to create a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific by 2020, a long-promised and long-debated effort to open up trade between some of the world’s largest economies.”

APEC countries account for approximately 40% of the world’s population, approximately 54% of world GDP, and about 44% of world trade.

Canada last hosted an APEC summit in 1997 in Vancouver, and given the rotation of summits is likely to next host APEC leaders in 2018, just prior to the scheduled creation of this FTA.

“Gathering in (Yokohama, Japan) on the heels of a G20 summit that failed to resolve concerns over protectionism and currency disputes, the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation agreed to similar language as the G20 on the need to work together.”

The final communiqué states, “We will take concrete steps toward realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which is a major instrument to further APEC’s regional economic integration agenda.”

The Canadian Press adds that, “The declaration said this goal should build on regional groupings such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement that nine APEC members are negotiating (but not Canada).”

Overall, the leaders of Canada, the US, China, Japan, Russia, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Peru and other countries “endorsed a blueprint for growth that calls for pushing ahead with free-trade agreements and rolling back protectionist measures put in place during the financial crisis.”

And the Toronto Star notes, “Running an unprecedented budget deficit of $45 billion, the Harper government wants end its stimulus spending in March and use the 2011 budget to begin slashing spending and start reducing budget shortfalls that will total $144 billion over four years.”

“But the Conservatives may be forced to shelve this strategy and continue with limited economic pump-priming next year if the Canadian economy continues to be dragged down by sluggish conditions in the U.S. and other countries.”

The news articles are at http://www.thestar.com/mobile/NEWS/article/890513http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/11/13/apec-wrap-japan.html and http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/asian-pacific-leaders-vow-to-create-region-wide-free-trade-zone-by-2020/article1798293/?service=mobile.